The day of 26 October 1947 holds historical significance for the year of India. It was on this day that Maharaja Harisingh signed the Instrument of Accession, ie the Instrument of Accession, of the accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India. It is well known that on 22 October 1947, Pakistani armed forces in the guise of tribals entered Kashmir and started moving towards Srinagar with great speed, committing plundering, robbing the border subjects, mistreating women, etc. Although Maharaja was in favor of a merger with India from the beginning, he had recommended it to Nehru in July 1947, yet seven decades after independence, it was propagated by the Congress and Left parties that the delay in the merger was on his part. Whereas the fact remains that the process of the merger was delayed by the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

While Pakistan chose a Muslim Governor-general MA Jinnah, Nehru backed Britishman Mountbatten as its first Governor General (GG) after gaining independence! GG Mountbatten managed what the British Raj wanted—at India’s expense. It was because Mountbatten becoming the GG was Nehru’s idea. What reasons for the freedom fighters select a British national for the top position? Why couldn’t an Indian act as GG if Jinnah could run Pakistan?

Mountbatten had become Nehru’s mentor and trusted advisor reflecting extensively on Nehru’s colonial worldview as well as his perception of people. When Nehru was not easily persuaded to agree to what Mountbatten desired, it is said that Mountbatten used his wife Edwina to persuade Nehru.

As a representative of Great Britain, Mountbatten was supposed to protect and advance the country’s interests while also keeping the British Government updated on events, particularly sensitive information. Pakistan and India both had British army generals. The Indian leaders should have taken into account the possibility that having a British GG and C-in-C could, in some circumstances, be counterproductive—and it did turn out to be. These British were able to manipulate situations, often against India’s interests, because their primary allegiance was to Britain.

It was widely believed that Mountbatten was to blame for the dreadful scope of the partition mayhem due to his egregious management failures. Two million Indians were allegedly killed by Mountbatten, stated Winston Churchill.

Andrew Roberts, a critic of Mountbatten, has said: “Mountbatten deserved to be court-martialled on his return to London.”

Three assassination attempts against Jinnah had been made by the victims of the tragedy of the partition. Because he was so upset, Jinnah said that Dickie Mountbatten was primarily to blame for the failure of the partition.

Britain wanted control over the strategically important territory of Kashmir.
If it was either independent or united with Pakistan, which was pro-Western, that was feasible. Mountbatten made sure that he was more than just a ceremonial head as GG in order to achieve this goal. He used deceit to get himself designated as the “Head of the Defence Committee of India,” making sure that Auchinleck, the Supreme Commander, and the Chiefs-in-Chief of the Indian and Pakistani Armies reported to him.

In that position, Mountbatten, without the knowledge of the Indian leaders, held private strategic meetings with the transitional British Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army and secretly coordinated with the transitional British Commander-in-Chief of the Pakistani Army decisions and actions in the world controlled, as much as possible, the way the British government preferred.

By June–July 1947, Maharaja Hari Singh of J&K had started to take steps toward formal accession with India, including the appointment of Mehr Chand Mahajan, a lawyer and Congress nominee for the Boundary Commission who would later become the Chief Justice of India, to replace his pro–Pak PM Ram Chandra Kak. In light of everything, Nehru ought to have fostered a favorable environment and gained Hari Singh’s trust in order to hasten the Maharaja’s choice to join India and prevent all the problems that would have resulted from his delayed accession. Instead, Nehru was hostile toward the Maharaja.

“There have been suggestions that the Maharaja had decided in August
1947, or certainly by mid-September, that he had no option but to join
India, and that he was just waiting for the best moment and the most
advantageous terms” wrote Andrew Whitehead in ‘A Mission in

When Maharaja Hari Singh proposed Kashmir’s admission to India in August or September 1947, Nehru surprisingly declined because he first demanded Sheikh Abdullah’s release and appointment as the State’s prime minister, something the Maharaja found intolerable. Instead of the state agreeing to combine, the country being granted admittance sets the terms! In fact, Nehru’s actions, motivated by his hubris, were unusual and scary! (In stark contrast, Jinnah offered the Maharajas of Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, and Bikaner a signed blank sheet and his own fountain pen so they could list their requirements for joining Pakistan, saying: “You can fill in all your conditions.”)

If the accession had been approved, the Indian army might have been stationed in Kashmir well before the Pakistani raiders’ assault in October 1947, averting the formation of the PoK as well as the awful tragedy of looting, murders, and rapes.

By October 22nd, 1947, the Pakistani raiders had nearly reached the outskirts of Srinagar, and the Maharaja was in desperate need of Indian assistance.
Sardar Patel suggested sending the Indian Army to J&K in light of the perilous situation. Nehru agreed, but Mountbatten insisted that India shouldn’t send troops to Kashmir until J&K signs the Instrument of Accession in India’s favor (the offer had previously been rejected by Nehru, probably on Mountbatten’s own initiative!).

The Mohore Power House was assaulted by Pakistani raiders on Friday, October 24, 1947, resulting in a blackout throughout Srinagar. On Saturday, 25 October 1947, the Defence Committee of India, led by Mountbatten, met and instead of directing action to preserve Srinagar, instructed VP Menon, & Sam Manekshaw

Sam Manekshaw would travel to Srinagar the same day to personally assess the situation, along with a few other senior military figures. Given that Mountbatten would have known what Pakistan was planning thanks to the British C-in-C of Pakistan, this was actually a premeditated strategy by the British leader to kill time, prevent Indian retaliation, and allow Pakistan to take the upper hand through force as the British desired. (British were the C-in-C of both Pakistan and India!)

VP Menon and his team traveled to Srinagar and discovered that the situation was worse than had been anticipated. They advised Maharaja Hari Singh to move quickly to Jammu’s protection. The following evening, Hari Singh traveled 200 miles to Jammu by car. On Sunday, October 26, 1947, early the next morning, MC Mahajan, the premier of J&K, VP Menon, Sam Manekshaw, and companions left Srinagar for Delhi and informed the Defence Committee of the dire circumstances. They cautioned that unless the troops were swiftly airlifted, Srinagar and its residents could not be saved.

Even the Srinagar airstrip was at imminent risk of being taken over by the raiders, which would end the only remaining option for airlifting soldiers. Despite the dire circumstances and knowing that without assistance were dispatched right away, including Kashmiri Muslims and Pandits. The Pakistani raiders would slaughter Srinagar and Mountbatten continued to maintain that Pakistan will lose Kashmir.

Be the first to sign the Instrument of Accession in India’s favor. Nehru just went along with Mountbatten, his mentor. Although J&K had not signed any Instrument of Accession in Pakistan’s favor, it did not seem illegal to Mountbatten and Nehru that the raiders supported by the Pakistani army had invaded the region; however, it did seem illegal to them to send Indian army assistance to prevent people from being pillaged, raped, and killed!

On Sunday, October 26, 1947, VP Menon traveled to Jammu as planned to get Maharaja Hari Singh to sign the Instrument of Accession. Mountbatten approved the Instrument of Accession on Monday, October 27, 1947, after Hari Singh signed it on Sunday, October 26, and VP Menon returned it. J&K legally became a part of India at the signing and adoption of the Instrument, and it was India’s responsibility to protect its territory and drive the raiders out.

Sam Manekshaw informed the attendees of the Defence Committee meeting on Monday, October 27, 1947, of the military situation. He claimed that the raiders were only seven to nine kilometers from Srinagar and that unless the troops were flown in right away, Srinagar would be lost since traveling by road would take days and it would be impossible to fly in the troops after the raiders reached the airport and Srinagar. He added that once the instructions were given, everything would be ready at the airport and the troops could be airlifted right away.

The pro-Pakistani British interests were served by Mountbatten, who attempted to delay the Indian army’s arrival by claiming that it was already too late because raiders were at Srinagar’s door. But Mountbatten himself is the one who was late in the first place! As usual, Nehru ducked the question. Notably, even when taking action was necessary right away, “Mountbatten threw his weight against any hasty action, underlining the need for further intelligence,” according to C Dasgupta in his book, “War and Diplomacy in Kashmir 1947-48.” Mountbatten displayed hesitation even when additional information was made available through VP Menon and Sam Manekshaw, who had been urgently ordered to airlift soldiers and had been specifically transported to Srinagar for the purpose on October 25, 1947.

“…the service chiefs [all British], supported by Mountbatten, sought to dissuade
the ministers from an airlift on the grounds that it involved great risks and
dangers”, writes Dasgupta.


Source: Nehru’s 97 Major Blunders by Rajnikanth Puranik


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